The Nuggets and Hawks are both coming off losses last night and both losses eerily familiar ... don't believe me? Follow the jump and take a peek, if you dare! (Sorry, still in Halloween mode apparently.)
Denver: 5-1 (Key wins: vs. Blazers and )
Atlanta: 4-2 (Key wins: vs. and ... losses at Lakers and Bobcats)
Time and TV: Game starts at 5:00 p.m. Mountain and can be seen on NBA TV or Altitude
Injuries: Denver - Joey Graham: day-to-day (sprained toe), Kenyon Martin (left leg contusion) wont play
Atlanta - Jason Collins: day-to-day (ankle)
The J.R. Smith countdown ...
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. Smith will be returning to action in Chicago.
I'm going to give you a few excerpts from a game last night, let's see if you can figure out if I'm taking these passages from the Nuggets game or the Hawks game ...
For a night, the roles were reversed. The low-scoring ______ were suddenly efficient on offense, while the high-scoring _____ turned in a stinker ...
and some more ...
"I don't know when we all of a sudden just really became a selfish team," ______ said. "Now everybody wants to go one-on-one. It's me, me, me. It's crazy, man."
Those excerpts are from the Hawks vs. Bobcats game last night and the quote is from Hawks guard Joe Johnson. But I'm telling you ... Atlanta and Denver played very similar games last night. That is why tonight's game can be a very nice turnaround game for one of these teams. I'm guessing that the team that decides to play unselfish will come away with the win.
In Denver's five wins this season they posted team assist numbers of: 22 vs. the Jazz, 11 vs. the Blazers, 36 vs. the Grizzlies, 18 vs. the Pacers and 25 vs. the Nets.
In Denver's lone loss, last night, the Nuggets combined for just 10 total assists.
Looking at the numbers above, Denver struggled in two games this season: on the road in Portland and last night in Miami. In each of those games the Nuggets posted their lowest assist totals. Basketball is a game that's all about getting the best available shot aka the easiest shot that gives you the best chance to make a basket. Things go a lot better for the Nuggets when they share the ball and we should know early if Denver is going to play unselfish basketball.
The Nuggets also must find a way to control the boards tonight and that task will be very difficult with K-Mart watching from the bench or locker room. We've seen Martin miss time before and last season when he was out George Karl turned to Renaldo Balkman. Seems pretty odd right? Balkman goes from not being able to get off the bench to potential starter. Balkman came in last night and logged 6 points (2-3 shooting) and 6 rebounds in 15 minutes and started the second half in K-Mart's absence.
I was just glancing at the box score of the Hawks vs. Bobcats game and had to do a double-take on Joe Smith's minutes ... he started, but only played 6 minutes. I thought maybe the game was waaaaay to familiar with both starting power forwards getting injured, but alas Smith plays limited minutes a la Dahntay Jones to make way for Josh Smith off the bench a la J.R. Smith.
Thankfully, the Hawks are a bit undersized overall themselves so a rotation of Balkman, Nene, Andersen, and Graham should be able to bang down low. Although the Hawks have Joe Smith 6'10'', Al Horford 6'10'', Zaza Pachulia 6'11'', and Josh Smith 6'9'' to throw at the Nuggets.
And when Joe Johnson was talking about his team playing a bit selfish ... it's not a big surprise when you consider they have a lot of offensive weapons in Johnson, Horford, Josh Smith, Mike Bibby (always likes to light the Nuggets up), Marvin Williams, Jamal Crawford, Maurice Evans, and rookie point guard Jeff Teague.
I'm excited to hopefully get to see Teague play. The rookie out of Wake Forest was drafted one spot behind Ty Lawson at 19th overall and his playing time has been all over the board (although he averages about 13 minutes per game). Teague has a lot of talent and I was hoping that if the Nuggets didn't get Lawson that they'd be able to get Teague ... it's always fun to watch guys play who you were thinking might end up with the team you follow.
Denver has to find a find a way to play unselfish and Melo must look to get his teammates involved. Along with trying to play unselfish the Nuggets are down another offensive weapon and some of the role players must step up tonight and take the load off Melo and Billups. I don't know who is going to step up tonight, but Denver could use an unfamiliar face to have a career night. One team will get right and earn a win, let's hope it's the Nuggets.
Opposition's take: Peach Tree Hoops
Photo courtesy of AP Photos: Gregory Smith